Choices, choices, choices… Gibraltar or Ronda Spain?
Depending on your preference, its conceivable that you could keep driving south to the very tip of Spain to reach Gibraltar.
Gibraltar is a British colony that’s only 2.5 miles wide, but it carries significant important. The “Rock” was claimed by Britain after the War of Spanish Succession in 1704. From here on out, the territory was used to control exporting and importing into the Mediterranean Sea. Spain has been fighting to reclaim Gibraltar ever since.
However, we decided to go to the quiet town of Ronda instead. Make your best judgement here on which direction you would rather travel. The main reason we chose to go to Ronda; it was closer to our next adventure Caminito del Rey. We will get to that on the next page.
But first, breakfast and a quick photo shoot on the beach!
Playa Victoria included a Spanish buffet style breakfast. We had crepes drizzled with hot chocolate, cold-cut rolled honey ham, scrambled eggs, bacon and a few croissants. It was not the most authentic or the tastiest breakfast on the trip, but it was going to hold us over until we reached Ronda.
Ronda is just over an hour and a half from Cadiz. Again, just a short trip and not a ton of driving. It became a little cumbersome to keep packing up our things each morning but the adventures were well worth it. Did I mention, we only had a carry-on and a small backpack this entire trip?
Read More: Packing Cubes vs. Rolling Clothes
So, while it wasn’t a huge deal to “pack” every night, as long as you stay organized, you’ll be fine. Here is a quick reference map of our southern Spain road trip so far.
The drive from Cadiz to Ronda was beautiful. Twisting and turning in and out of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, we got closer and closer to our destination. The weather was perfect outside, around 70°F and we had the windows rolled all the way day. There was a slight breeze and just as we rolled into town, we knew right away that there was something magical about Ronda.
The quaint town was already gleaming with energy by late morning. Locals on their vespa’s weaving through traffic on the way to work. Restaurant owners scurrying to get things in order. Shop owners opening their doors to their first customers of the day.
It took us some circling to find a parking place, and after staying very patient, we finally found one. The streets of Ronda are much like San Francisco. Giant hills that almost seem vertical when you have to walk up them. Parking the 5-speed Hyundai wasn’t a problem for me on the extremely tight city streets, but be prepared to parallel park like a boss.
Puente Nuevo & El Tajo Gorge
The first adventure on the agenda is to explore the city on foot. We had heard of an awesome hike to do before it got too hot. You may never have heard the name but there’s a good chance you’ve seen a picture of the Puente Nuevo, an 18th-century structure that spans the 120-metre-deep El Tajo Gorge between the citadel and newer part of the town. It’s one of the most impressive sights in Spain.
But before we started our journey, we walked through Alameda del Tajo. A beautiful park surrounded by lush trees and a steep drop off. This was undoubtedly the best view in town, hectares of olive oil fields below and mountains in the distant background. I could’ve stood here for hours just admiring and watching. And can you believe it, I didn’t take a picture for the ‘gram?!
As we crossed over the Puente Nuevo bridge to the other side, we found the trail head going down one of the cobblestone streets.
The hike was not very long to the viewpoint and going down is always easier than coming up. The bridge took over 40 years to build and claimed over 50 brave soles. There are many viewpoints to see Puente Nuevo, but we wanted to see it from below. So, we started at the top and worked our way down, following the dirt, rocks and sand as it twisted and turned down the cliffside.
Traveler Tip: You should allow for at least twice the amount of time coming back up, as going down. So, if the hike down takes 30 minutes, expect it to take 45min -1hr to hike back up. This is important information if it start to get dark, there are no lights on the path.
The landscape is absolutely stunning. If you look closely, you can see the waterfall that leads into the cascading rocks in the foreground of the left picture. above. How they built the bridge into the side of two canyons back during that time period just baffles me. It’s no wonder people died from it, it looks impossible to build today, even with modern machinery.
The Pedro Romero Festival
Every September, feria season in Andalusia ends with the spectacular Pedro Romero Festival in Ronda, a joyful and colorful week-long celebration that culminates in a prestigious bullfight. And we just so happen to be there during this week, it was totally unplanned and wonderfully delightful.
Why Pedro Romero? Ronda’s annual festival takes its name from one of the town’s most famous sons. Pedro Romero (1754–1839) was a hugely successful bullfighter, or torero, and is said to have taken on almost 5,600 bulls during his career without sustaining any serious injuries. In this superhuman feat, he was surely aided by luck (every torero needs a little luck) but also by his first-class bullfighting genes. Romero’s grandfather, Francisco, is credited with creating many of the bullfighting traditions we know today. In the 18th century, it was Francisco Romero (1700–63) who first faced a bull on foot, rather than on horseback, and who developed the use of the dark red cloth (the muleta) to provoke the bull’s charges.
It was not until 1954, however, that the festival celebrated today was really born. That year, the famous bullfighter Cayetano Ordóñez (the founder of Ronda’s other great bullfighting dynasty) hint upon the notion of a celebration that would combine the bicentennial anniversary of Pedro Romero’s birth, a bullfight, the annual feria and a celebration of the art of Francisco de Goya (1746–1828).
Ronda’s Pedro Romero Festival is the only festival in the world to be named after a bullfighter.
Where to Eat in Ronda With a View
If you’re looking for a great view and some good food, head over to Casa Santa Pola. It was here that we were able to grab an outside dining table, Sangria and a meal to hold us over to dinner time.
Check out this view!
Can’t forget the gelato too from “Oh! My – Ice Cream, Cakes & Coffee”
Where to Stay in Ronda Spain
If you’re into boutique hotels with an amazing view and a good set of amenities, book Catalonia Reina Victoria. For under $150US, this fabulous hotel located just blocks away from the the city citer, is a great choice. The room was a touch of modern and a splash of boutique. The king bed was super comfy and the shower/steam room was perfect at the end of the day.
The pool caught my eye on the way in so we dropped off our luggage in the room and made our way out back. Tell me this isn’t a nice way to end a long day!
Catalonia Reina Victoria has a cozy à la carte restaurant, TV lounge, conference facilities, a cafeteria and a bar. The hotel also has a parking lot. Many hotels in Spain do not offer parking, this is one of the few in Ronda.
The hotel Catalonia Reina Victoria is settled in a unique environment, between a lovely pine forest in the middle of the town, very close to Ronda’s landmarks and the famous Tajo de Ronda.
The cotton candy sunset was the best we had seen on our trip so far as we enjoyed the complimentary wine from the 1906 Victorian style terrace.
I think we made a fantastic decision in choosing Ronda, but that’s just me. What do you think?